Where to go in Rio de Janeiro – Ultimate Guide for Returning Visitors
Welcome back to Rio! You had the same experience that so many visitors to Rio have: you fell in love with the Cidade Maravilhosa and decided to come back. During your first visit you probably checked the boxes and visited the highlights of Rio, but the city still has a lot more to offer. Now it’s time to discover the lesser known places and dive in to the Carioca way of life.
Stay in a different neighborhood
Most visitors that come to Rio stay in the famous neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema. A excellent choice with all the tourist facilities and the most famous beaches in the world at the doorstep of your accommodation. However, if you want to experience more of the local lifestyle of the Cariocas we recommend to stay in another neighborhood this time.
Consider for example young, hip and off beat Botafogo. Last year the important TimeOut magazine put Botafogo as the only Brazilian neighborhood on their list of 50 coolest neighborhoods in the world. Next to Botafogo you find the neighborhood Laranjeiras, where you can experience the local street life at Praca San Salvador. Other options are Flamengo, to mix up with the cariocas in cool traditional bars, or Urca, to have a beer while watching the sunset at Mureta da Urca. If you really want to go local and off the beaten track, it’s also possible to stay in one of the favelas in the city.
Visit Boulevard Olimpico & the old Harbor district
With the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, Rio invested in renovating the old Harbor area of the city. This is now a nice area to visit. On Praça Mauá you will find two of Rio’s best musea of which one is the Museum of Tomorrow. Housed in a futuristic building designed by the world famous Spanish architect Calatrava. Next to the square is the Boulevard Olimpico and a little further you can see the most beautiful pieces of street art in Rio. In the old harbor area you can visit the biggest see aquarium of South-America: AquaRio and the recently opened biggest Ferris wheel of South America. A visit to this area is easy to combine with a visit to the historic neighborhood Morro da Conceição and visiting a samba night at Pedra do Sal.
Local nightlife: go to a Samba
Samba music is as connected to Rio de Janeiro as it’s beaches and football culture. A great way to go out is to visit one the numerous samba parties in town. At these parties there is a band playing samba music and you can blend in with the mainly local crowd that are dancing and singing along with all the famous samba songs. These parties start early and usually end around midnight. Which is great when you want to go out and wake up early the next day as well. Check our weekly event updates to see which Sambas are going on. Famous ones are the samba at Pedra do Sal on Monday and Friday in the city center and Samba dos Guimaraes on Saturday in Santa Teresa.
Hike into nature
One of the things that makes Rio such an amazing city is that it is located in the Atlantic rainforest. You find lush tropical plants and gigantic old trees in the streets and the Tijuca National Park in the middle of the city. It’s great to visit this easy and quick to reach park when you want to escape the loud and busy city. See a lot of birds and monkeys, step under a waterfall and make a hike to one of many hills with breathtaking views over the city. An easy and nice hike to start with is Pedra Bonita.
Visit some islands in Rio
You liked experiencing the nature in the city? How about the laid back island life? Yes, Rio also has islands in and close to the city that are wordwhile to visit. You can for example take the ferry in the city center to the tranquil island of Paqueta that’s located in the middle of Guanabara bay. Another great option is paying a visit to the laid back, but vibrant Ilha de Gigoia. This island has great bars and restaurants and is located just behind the metro station of Jardim Oceanico. A lot of people also wonder if they can visit the islands in front of Ipanema beach. These islands are called Ilhas Cagarras. You cannot enter the islands, since they are a protected nature reserve, but you can visit them and swim and snorkel there while making a sailing trip.
When you want to stay longer
When you are planning to return to Rio for a longer period it is good to inform yourself about visa regulations in Brazil. We can help you out with getting the right visa.
For anyone visiting Rio more than once, it is recommended to learn at least a view words of Portuguese. Most of the cariocas don’t speak English. When you plan on staying for a longer time and really want to emerge in the local culture we recommend to take Portuguese classes. You will be amazed how fast you can participate in conversations. Don’t be afraid, because cariocas love it when you try to speak Portuguese with them. Though they will make fun of your accent, but that is all part of the charm.